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Two generations together

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WORTHINGTON — On Friday night, some local residents will walk the red carpet in advance of a movie premiere — a gala not set in Hollywood, but in Worthington.

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A documentary film that follows American-born children of Guatemalan heritage as they travel to their homeland to meet their extended families will have its grand debut Friday evening. Produced by native Guatemalan Luis Argueta, now a U.S. citizen filmmaker living in New York, the film has a working title of “Abuelos y Nietos Juntos: Two Generations Together.” Its subjects are children who were born in the United States and live in Worthington, although their parents all came here from Guatemala.

In July 2013, 14 American-born youths, accompanied by 10 chaperones, traveled to Guatemala, where they met up with their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and in a couple cases, siblings. The family reunions were captured on film by Argueta and his crew, with further footage shot in Worthington. A second such trip is planned for this July.

Now, a year later, the film is finally completed and will have a new name, according to Lisa Kremer, Familias Juntas project coordinator.

“Luis has changed the name, but he won’t tell us what it is,” she explained. “So it will also be an unveiling of the name, which I know will be shorter.”

The film is about 40 minutes long, edited down from more 200 hours of footage originally collected for the project.

“Luis is very pleased with it,” related Kremer. “He was telling me the other day that he watched the movie for the 100th time, and he said it still chokes him up every time he watches it.”

Argueta and his crew will be on hand for the premiere and will walk the red carpet along with the subjects of the film and their families. Kremer expects a few other dignitaries will also attend, including Bishop John Quinn of the Diocese of Winona; Linda Green, head of Latin American studies at the University of Arizona; David Vasquez, a campus pastor at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, who has been involved in immigrant affairs; and Hugo Hun, Consul General of Guatemala in Chicago.

Originally, Fernando Carrera, the Guatemalan Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Oscar Padilla, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, had intended to be present, but have now sent their regrets because of another matter of state.

“Vice President Joe Biden is going to be in Guatemala,” explained Kremer. “He is going there because of the whole issue of unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S. — people sending their kids here. It just proves to me that what we’re doing here is all the more important.”

The doors will open at the Event Center at 6:15 p.m., and the red carpet entrance is set to begin at 7 p.m. Following a short program at 7:30 p.m., the film will be shown, with a reception afterward.

“If there’s an up part to not having such huge dignitaries coming, it’s that we want to focus on the families being important,” said Kremer. “They’re really the stars. They worked so hard and put so much into this. They’re a little embarrassed about being in the spotlight, but I think they really like it.”

Guatemalan food — prepared by BenLee’s with direction from local immigrants — will be served at the reception, and most of the “stars” will be garbed in traditional attire.

“We encourage other immigrants, if they are coming, to wear traditional clothing from their homeland,” encouraged Kremer. “It’s all about the immigrants, and we want to recognize that.”

In conjunction with the Friday gala, a community public forum on immigration will be from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington campus. It is sponsored by the Culture Corner.

“It’s an opportunity for people to express their stories, thoughts and reflections on immigration,” Kremer explained.

After more than a year of work on the Guatemala trip and documentary and months of preparation for the premiere, Kremer is excited to see it all come to fruition.

“Maybe we can make a difference by giving them a chance to express their voices,” she said. “From what I’ve seen, I think it’s going to be a really emotional thing for a lot of people — of course for the immigrants, because they lived it — but for all of us, to hear their stories and what they go through.

“It’s going to connect people with their own experiences, whatever they are. It’s not just for the immigrants. It’s for everyone.”

Tickets for the premiere are still available and will also be sold at the door, although Kremer encourages people to get them in advance in order to facilitate planning.

For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.familiasjuntas.com; or contact Kremer, 360-3423.

Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be reached at 376-7327.

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Beth Rickers
Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at http://lagniappe.areavoices.com/.  
(507) 376-7327
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